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Populism and the First Wave of Globalization: Evidence from the 1892 US Presidential Election

Author

Listed:
  • Klein, Alexander

    (University of Kent, CAGE, CEPR)

  • Persson, Karl Gunnar

    (University of Copenhagen)

  • Sharp, Paul

    (University of Southern Denmark, CAGE, CEPR)

Abstract

The reasons for the famous agrarian unrest in the United States between 1870 and 1900 remain debated. We argue that they are, at least in part, consistent with a simple economic explanation. Falling transportation costs allowed for the extension of the frontier, where farmers received the world price minus the transaction costs involved in getting their produce to market. Many perceived these costs to be unfairly large, owing to the perceived market power of rail firms and the discriminatory practices of middlemen, with farmers closer to the frontier most affected. Consistent with this, we find that the protest, as measured by vote shares for the Populists in the 1892 Presidential elections, is negatively related to wheat prices, transportation costs, and rail network density.

Suggested Citation

  • Klein, Alexander & Persson, Karl Gunnar & Sharp, Paul, 2020. "Populism and the First Wave of Globalization: Evidence from the 1892 US Presidential Election," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 495, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:495
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agriculture; globalization; Grain Invasion; populism; United States JEL Classification: F6; N51; N71;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F6 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization
    • N51 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N71 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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